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National Restaurant Association - February RPI edges up, driven by stronger sales and traffic

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February RPI edges up, driven by stronger sales and traffic

Bolstered by positive same-store sales and traffic results and an optimistic outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) remained above 100 for the fourth consecutive month in February. 

The RPI stood at 101.9 in February, up 0.6 percent from January’s level of 101.3. RPI stood solidly above the 100 threshold, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“Buoyed by continued gains in national employment and an extra day in February as a result of Leap Year, a solid majority of restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales and traffic results,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association.

“Perhaps the most positive indicator is the optimistic outlook for staffing levels in the months ahead. Only seven percent of restaurant operators expect to reduce staffing levels in the next six months, the lowest level in nearly eight years,” he said.

The RPI consists of two components - the Current Situation Index (measuring current trends) and the Expectations Index (measuring restaurant operators’ six-month outlook) - and tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry.

The Current Situation Index stood at 101.9 in February – up 1.3 percent from January’s level of 100.6. Sixty-three percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between February 2011 and February 2012, up from 56 percent who reported a sales gain in January.

Fifty-five percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between February 2011 and February 2012, while just 19 percent reported a traffic decline.  In January, 46 percent of operators reported higher customer traffic, while 30 percent reported a traffic decline.

The Expectations Index stood at 102.0 in February – essentially unchanged from January’s level of 102.1.  February marked the sixth consecutive month that the Expectations Index stood above 100, which represents an optimistic outlook among restaurant operators for business conditions in the months ahead.      

In addition, 49 percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, essentially unchanged from the proportion reporting similarly last month. 

For additional details, see our news release, full RPI report, and subscription-based Restaurant Trendmapper.

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